These are the top tips on how to book a cruise, for Indian travelers who want to try a Cruise vacation. In order to keep this post helpful and simple, I am sticking to Ocean Cruises. I will post my tips on River Cruises in a separate post soon.
Is a cruise very expensive? Is going on a cruise safe for elderly people? Where to book the best cruise from? What is the best cruise in the world? How to book a cruise that’s perfect for me? – These are a few question I’ve got ever since I got back from my first ever luxury cruise.
And I can totally relate because before my first cruise experience, I had the same questions myself. I did not know how cruises worked – and to someone who has never tried a cruise vacation, this can seem like a minefield. Many of us find it difficult to pick the right cruise vacation amongst plenty of cruise liners available, hence the task of deciding what is best for you, seems daunting.
Cruises are pretty popular in the western countries, but in India the cruise market is still emerging. This can mainly be attributed to the lack of awareness about cruise vacations amongst the Indian travelers.
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Also, in my experience, this exhilarating way to spend a vacation is considered to be an expensive holiday as compared to, say, a trip to Thailand or a staycation at a luxury resort in Goa.
This, however, is far from the truth.
Until I took a cruise vacation, I did not know if it was fun being on a ship for days at length, would I get bored or sea sick? Many questions, but the biggest one was – How to book a cruise that is right for me and my needs?
And now that I have gone on a cruise, I can safely say that I am addicted!
[Read about my first cruise experience with Princess Cruises: 8 Side Effects of Going on a Cruise for The First Time ]
As a result of this new found love for cruising, I read a lot about the cruising industry and spoke to a few experts and regulars.
Here are a few tips to help you book a cruise that is the best for you:
1. Where Do You Want To Go On a Cruise?
Like any other vacation, the first thing you should decide before you book your cruise vacation, is your destination. Where do you want to go? As an Indian traveler, I’m assuming that you’d want to embark on your cruise from India or disembark on an Indian port. The options are plenty. Many cruise lines have ships that stop in Cochin, Mumbai and other Indian ports where you can start or end your cruise, depending on your itinerary.
You can fly to the starting point and get down in India, like I flew to the Dubai Airport from Delhi, and boarded my cruise liner from the Dubai Terminal, and got back to land in Cochin. A friend of mine along with her husband, who are regular cruisers, recently got on a flight from Manila to Dubai to board The Majestic Princess, the ship I was on. That is where we became friends, btw.
Alternatively, you can board from India and fly back from any foreign port your cruise ends. For me, Cruise Professionals did all the bookings and it was flawless. So you see, it is easy to coordinate the travel plans. The flights and schedules can be managed pretty well when you plan in advance.
Book a cruise from a wide selection of options – You can also go for an Asian cruise if you want a shorter, closer to Indian port cruise. Think a weekend cruise from Mumbai to Singapore. Or a long weekend cruise from Dubai to Cochin. For longer cruises, you have plenty to choose from. Go to Norway or Iceland, to the Baltic or the Mediterranean. Or pick anything from Australia to Mexico.
2. How to Find Out Which Cruise Line is Best For You?
Amongst the wide offerings from various cruise liners available, I suggest you do your homework and research companies, itineraries and routes. This research will help you in making the final decision. A few popular companies for first-time cruisers are Princess Cruises, Star Cruise, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Royal Caribbean International. All have a different culture on-board – some cruise liners are known for its party culture and young vibe, while others are perfect for honeymooners. One thing that is guaranteed is that the multi-cultural interaction you will experience on a cruise.
Once you have zeroed in on a cruise company, research about its various ships as well because different ships by the same company might have different offerings.
Check out things like food options, in case you have special dietary requirements and activities for kids, if you will be going on the cruise with your kids. Choose the stateroom that’s fit for your requirement – there are various kinds of accommodations available onboard a cruise and you can book a cruise according to your like and budget.
Which brings us to the next point – What is a good budget for a cruise?
3. What is Your Budget for This Cruise Vacation?
First of all, let me tell you that cruises are not extremely expensive. I had the notion that Cruise vacations are for the super-rich, but I found out that I was wrong. I would like to tell you how much my trip with Princess Cruises and Cruise Professionals cost, but I won’t because the cruise costs have many factors attached to it, and some are variable. I can give you a rough idea here:
A 2-day weekend cruise can cost as low as INR 25,000 per head (all meals and stay included), and a 5-day international cruise can cost as low as 50,000 per head (all meals and stay included). This depends on when you book the cruise, among other factors. So study the prices, choose your cruise and set your budget.
According to my understanding, the actual cost that you will pay for your cruise vacation will depend on the services that are included in the upfront cost. Generally, accommodation and all meals in a few restaurants (mostly an all-day dining restaurant on board) will be included, but services like unlimited alcohol, exclusive clubs and organized tours for the various ports the ships stop during the journey are extra costs. But don’t worry; you can pay for whatever service you want, on the ship as well. So decide your holiday budget and book a cruise accordingly.
[ Read my popular travel blog post: 5 Popular International Trips Under 1 Lakh ]
4. What Is The Best Time to Book Your Cruise?
According to me, the sooner you book your cruise, the better. Keep an eye on costs and offers for the cruise you have finally selected. Contact a cruise agent if you’d like. I strongly recommend Cruise Professionals because they work transparently and are extremely helpful. You can also consider some online forums dedicated to Cruises and chat with other cruisers for detailed information and real-life accounts, which will help you make a decision.
That’s it, go ahead and book a cruise that is perfect for your needs. Have fun on your first cruise. If you have any other questions, please ask in comments and I will try my best to answer.
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